As a member of St. Ann's RCIA team, I was dismayed and confused to read the opinion article by Father Rolheiser in the Jan. 20 issue of The Catholic Commentator.

At best, I believe Father Rolheiser is splitting hairs and at worst, giving rein to a personal opinion which could negatively influence a reader's behavior to the detriment of their soul. Sections 2180-2183 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church are explicit that Mass attendance is obligatory, unless excused for a serious reason and that those who “deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.” Section 1861 states “exclusion from Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of hell” as the penalty for (grave sin) unless one obtains the sacrament of reconciliation. It seems pretty clear to me that if I wake up Sunday morning and decide I don’t feel like attending Mass and fail to attend, I am committing mortal sin. I have failed my obligation with full knowledge and intent and I will remain outside union with Christ and the church unless or until I go to confession.

I would not presume to judge someone who missed Mass, or their motives or reasons for doing so. It is impossible for me to know their state of mind, depth of knowledge, etc. and besides, the purview of sin and judgement belongs to God, not me. I believe, however, that it is disingenuous to make a blanket statement such as Father Rolheiser has done without further clarifying exactly what the teaching of the church is on the matter and why it might or might not be a mortal sin to miss Mass, so that no one is given an erroneous impression. I can see where someone could read his article and think, “Hey, it's okay to play golf (sleep in, go shopping, etc.) once in a while instead of going to Mass!”

Pam Brown